Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A Wee Review - The Chill by Jason Starr and Mick Bertilorenzi

Of the three Vertigo Crime graphic novels I’ve read to date, The Chill is by far my favourite. From the subject matter to the writing to the art, the whole package just spoke to me.

As far as I know, this is Jason Starr’s first foray into the world of supernatural fiction and he hasn’t held back. The storyline is an exploration of Irish mythology and how it could play out in modern society. We’re introduced to the ultimate femme fatale, a series of brutal killings in New York and a police force completely stumped by all the conflicting evidence. Could it be that one Irish cop from Boston with a penchant for Jameson is the key to uncovering the truth?

Well, read it and find out.

I think Jason Starr’s association with Ken Bruen shines through in the writing of this graphic novel. Convincing vernacular, Jameson whiskey, a startling pessimism towards human nature... Really, Starr’s done this job as well as any black-hearted Mick could. Starr balances the reader’s perception just enough to sway sympathy away from the victims. At times, it’s actually quite easy to root for the murderer. By the final chapter, you just don’t know who should come out on top.

As I mentioned earlier, I think Mick Bertilorenzi’s artwork is terrific in The Chill. Good clean lines, soft grey shading and the perspective in a lot of the action frames rocked my socks off. I’d call it cinematic. I was particularly impressed by the frames that didn’t contain any dialogue. Real ‘show don’t tell’ stuff. I’m not sure how much of this is dependent on Starr’s script direction, but whatever way the effect is achieved; both artists are very well matched. I’d like to see more from each of them in this medium.

By the way, a lot of the scenes are highly sexual and I’m not too ashamed to admit that my inner teenager would have killed for a copy of this. But as a respectable adult, I have to say, I found the eroticism matched the tone without being gratuitous. Bertilorenzi’s artwork really adds to the dark beauty Starr presents in his writing.

So, if the weather outside ain’t frightful enough for you, get your mitts on a copy of The Chill. It’ll fairly put a tingle in your spine. Best treated with a wee hot toddy, by the way.


Michael Stone said...

Nice review, man. You've made it impossible for me to ignore this book. Don't you realise I'm skint! *shakes fist* Seriously, though, it's gotta go on me shopping list.

seana graham said...

This Jason Starr does get around, doesn't he? Seems very savvy in his approach to writing in this new era.

Stuart Neville said...

I met Jason Starr a couple of times at Bouchercon. He was a nice guy, and very tolerant of my being drunk and mouthy.

Anonymous said...

Sounds interesting. I'll keep an eye out for it.